FFRF_Carl_Jager

CARL JAEGER/Herald photo

Madison's Freedom From Religion Foundation unveiled its new anti-religion billboard Tuesday in Madison. The billboard, located off the West Beltline near the Todd Drive exit, displays the message "Beware of Dogma" along with the group’s name and web address. Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of FFRF, said the billboard is the first in the nation, after several attempts to buy billboard space and the group being repeatedly turned down. The billboard serves as a kickoff to the group’s national convention next weekend in Madison. "We want to take our message on the road nationally," Gaylor said. "The roadsides are full of crosses and God campaigns, and we want to pose our point of view." Gaylor said their message asks people to use reason when formulating their opinions about religion, rather than the power of the church, which often suppresses freedom of expression. The plan, Gaylor said, is to continue expanding this campaign by advertising their message on more billboards, including a smaller one on West Johnson Street, to mark the convention. Gaylor said the organization is also hoping to work more closely with students at the University of Wisconsin in the future, adding that Richard Dawkins, author of the best selling book, "The God Delusion," will speak as part of the distinguished lecture series on campus next March. University of Wisconsin sophomore Rachel Friedlander-Holm said she does not find the message exceptionally offensive, but understands people could be upset because the idea attacks the validity of faith. "I think religion is something that shouldn't be controlled by anyone except the individual," Friedlander-Holm said. Representatives from UW Roman Catholic Foundation declined to comment and other religious organizations did not return phone calls as of press time. However, Catholic Diocese of Madison spokesperson Brent King of Madison told The Capital Times the diocese does not “want to force religion on anybody” and religious choices “need to be made on a freewill basis."